A new lightweight contender has emerged after Rafael Fiziev picked up a jaw-dropping knockout to finish Brad Riddell in the UFC Vegas 44 co-main event.
Following a back-and-forth battle through the first two rounds, Fiziev unleashed a spectacular spinning wheel kick that blasted Riddell and sent him backwards towards the cage. Riddell was so stunned that he essentially waved Fiziev off as if he was asking for a timeout before eventually stumbling to the canvas as referee Herb Dean rushed in to stop the fight.
The official end time came at 2:20 in round three.
“This is from God. God give me power,” Fiziev said after his fifth straight win. “I love [Brad Riddell]. When I meet with him, I love him from the first second. I learned from him before and today also. I hope he comes back.
“I wait for this moment in three rounds. I know when he goes this way, he drop his hands down and he forgets about spinning back kicks.”
There was a lot of respect shown from the former training partners but it didn’t take long for Fiziev to start unleashing some nasty body kicks and Riddell countering with his heavy hands. Just before the first round ended, Riddell connected with his best combination through the first five minutes as he uncorked several punches in succession that put Fiziev on his heels.
In return, Fiziev was cautious when engaging but he did manage to clip Riddell with an inside elbow that opened a nasty cut on the left side of the eyebrow that immediately began leaking blood. Still, Riddell didn’t let that bother him too much as he continued to display lightning quick hands with plenty of power behind every punch thrown.
As the fight moved in the second and third rounds, Fiziev’s diverse arsenal was his best weapon because he was mixing up his strikes including more of the body kicks that kept Riddell from ever getting too aggressive.
That’s when Fiziev decided to unleashed the spinning wheel kick that cracked Riddell just as he was backing up towards the cage. The delayed reaction to the kick gave Fiziev pause for a split second but then Riddell fell to the ground as the fight was stopped before any further punishment could be doled out.
Fiziev will now undoubtedly make a considerable jump up the lightweight ranks as he starts staring down top 10 competition sooner rather than later.
“I don’t want to call someone,” Fiziev said. “Give me three months and I’m ready to fight again.”